Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday once known as Decoration Day, the time to remember those who fell in defense of their country. Memorial Day is now officially observed on a Monday to form a three-day holiday weekend, and the original significance has been distilled down to a 60-second Moment of Remembrance.
But there are 259,199 more minutes to a three-day weekend, and human nature abhors a semantic vacuum, so the holiday has acquired meanings in other realms:
Ceremony: Solemn ritual processions.
Ritual garb: White footwear.
Nutrition: Ceremonial meals.
Transportation: The Brickyard.
Calendar: Memorial Day is the official Unofficial Start of Summer.
The National Moment of Remembrance is at 3:00 PM to 3:01 PM (local time in each time zone) on Monday, May 30, 2016. U.S. Code, Title 36,114, Stat. 3078, Sec.(2)(7): “… reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.”
For more about the origins of Memorial Day, see Burying the Dead but Not the Past by Dr. Caroline Janney.
“Why Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day (but shouldn’t be),” Valerie Strauss, Washington Post
Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,
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